Pastors Report - 2 Nov 2018
caringForThisWorld

Caring for This World ...

"And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes." (Luke 19:41-42)

The Example We Follow:

In Hebrews chapter 6 verse 20, Jesus Christ is described as our forerunner – the one going ahead to give both example and direction to those that follow. Many other scriptures back this up – that the example He sets us is one of the vital purposes of His sinless life:

  • For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:29)
  • Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. (I Corinthians 11:1)
  • And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us ... (Ephesians 5:2)
  • Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: (Philippians 2:5)
  • He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked. (I John 2:6)

But when we examine some of the things He both said and did with regards to the outside world there appears a certain dichotomy, i.e, a contrast between deeply caring for the fate of Jerusalem – but also stating: "let the dead bury their dead" (Matthew 8:22) and "I pray not for the world , but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine." (John 17:9) Yet again, on reading the gospels we can see that at the same time Christ was continually moved by compassion to both help and heal those He came in contact with IN the world. (Acts 10:38) So where does God expect us to draw the line? How can we too be moved with the correct compassion to help those in the world today, while at the same time remain separate from it – no longer part of it? (II Corinthians 6:17, John 15:19)

The Example of AIDS:

Take for example the current plague of AIDS which is devastating most areas of Africa today. Some time ago I received the following heartfelt email from a member in Kenya asking for prayers for what he finds he is having to witness daily regarding AIDS in Africa:

Dear Minister, I would to present prayer request for the people who is facing the greatest killer in the world today.[AIDS]

... this deadly disease makes orphans remain without parents. Since more than 42-million people have so far been infected by this great killer, and mostly, 2/3 of them are in Africa. Surely now, it is the time of men and women to turn to GOD, who can heal our Country-Kenya, along with Africa; even we see young widows infected by their husbands, and they are facing death, even left old grandmothers/grandfathers, struggling with the children to keep their children, but the situation come heavy, because no foods, cloths, blankets, and school fees.

Knowing the area he is writing from, I can certainly understand his frustration and desperation. The world around him is being utterly devastated by this plague, but I had to reply to him that I could not simply put out a prayer request for this world as he asked, because this world is finished. More and more, events across the world appear to be moving towards a crisis point. Certainly one such area has to be the current AIDS epidemic in the Third World. But where do such things really come from? All you have to do is to look at the tribal sexual customs practised in Kenya to begin to understand why:

"Men in the remote Kenyan town of Isiolo have long had sex with young virgins to purge themselves of afflictions or curses ... Today, old purging ceremonies practised by the nomadic peoples of Kenya's north-eastern province are being routinely used as an HIV cure.

"Another custom permits a man to have indiscriminate and unprotected sex with the wife of another man of the same generation. A spear propped by the door of a man's house means that someone else is in bed with his wife. "None of us is jealous ... because we all do it," said Nassir, who said he has slept with many men's wives. He thinks his own wife, who died shortly after his cleansing ceremony, was HIV-infected." ( http://www.thebody.com/content/art26974.html)

With such a culture can we see why the problem of HIV AIDS is so great in this region? Until the culture changes, there can be no removal of the plague.

No Half Measures:

God will not work within sexual chaos. A "half-job" is exactly what Satan was offering Christ when he said, "All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me." (Matthew 4:9) A large part of the temptation to Christ must have been to try and sort out the problems of this world there and then. But Christ knew such a thing cannot possibly work – with Satan still on his throne – so rejected it outright.

God is not into merely "improving" things. God is a Creator who, when He does something, He does it right! Solomon points out, "whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him." (Ecclesiastes 3:14) That "fearing before Him" will ultimately be for an eternity of joy. Every one of us – every single human being that ever lived – is going to have to get to the point that they will never go back to this way of Satan again – for all eternity. That is the purpose of our lives at this time, and is why this present age has not quite arrived at its close. That is why Kenya must remain in the mess it is in today for a little while longer.

Pray Not for World:

This is also why in Christ's prayer on that final Passover – just before He literally died for the world (John 3:16) – He specifically made a point of not praying for the world at large. Instead, He prayed only for those involved in the current stage of the plan, who were to be trained to serve the world in the future.

  • I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. (John 17:6)
  • I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.(John 17:9)

Now is NOT the time to heal Kenya. That can only happen after Christ's return when the correct Government of God is established – bringing the world out of "the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God." (Romans 8:21) This is why Christ would not pray for the world. Though He had great compassion for it – to the point of death – He saw the bigger picture, and the eternal value of humanity learning the lessons of aversion therapy.

Spiritual Governance:

So the answer to the "dichotomy" of Christ's approach has everything to do with the kind of overall spiritual governance involved. We cannot tinker with this present evil world – thereby placing ourselves under the spiritual governance of Satan – but must recognise that what is needed is an entirely new civilisation – a New World, a new age – that will completely replace the present from top to bottom. This is why we should not be getting involved with politics, direct action, the military and worldly protests, for example – as they are designed as an attempt to change things now. Conversely, where the spiritual governance involved remains largely under our own control, then the compassion to help, serve, and give should naturally flow – as it did with Jesus Christ when here on earth – "because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy [Spirit] which is given unto us." (Romans 5:5) .

So the main, overall thing we can – and should – be constantly praying for this world is "thy kingdom come" – when God's Law will finally be lovingly enforced. Keep in mind that when Christ was approached by His disciples who asked Him to teach them to pray, they were probably wanting to know HOW to pray for the mess they could see in the world at their time! In reply, His focus was not on how they could improve society back then ... but the emphasis of the prayer was clearly "thy Kingdom come" – not, "show us how to sort out and improve current conditions". As Mr Armstrong points out in a sermon:

"Now, I want you to get this. In fulfilling God’s purpose, Christ is the second Adam; and He started what the first Adam did not start. This is Satan’s world, and God is starting another world – another civilization.

"You know, people think if civilization ended that would be the greatest tragedy that could happen. Oh, the end of civilization, wouldn’t that be terrible! Well, I think I need to have a telecast on that. Civilization is going to end, and it ought to end. The sooner this civilization ends the better. When we are told to pray “Our Father which is in heaven … Thy kingdom come,” we mean “Thy civilization (another civilization) come;” and this civilization has to go. And the sooner this civilization is gone, the better for everybody." ( Hungering For God’s Righteousness - 11 June 1983)

The entire civilization has to be totally replaced! Without that, there is no solution to Kenya's HIV AIDS, disease of all kinds, to mass shootings, hate crime, knife crime, divorce, rampant drug use, broken and heartbroken family situations. The solid, loving family unit must become the standard – and ALL contrary human ideas removed. For this to happen – nationwide – the human heart itself is what must change.

A Changed Human Heart:

And this SHOULD be where you and I come in, – dealing with issues that arise out of genuine concern and compassion. But the world in which we find ourselves has changed and is daly changing even more – to one that lacks natural affection – that no longer even has the common human decency of our forefathers. Just a few minutes of a news broadcast shows we live in a world hooked on gossip, character assassination, and "Me First".

In the countryside of yesteryear and particularly in remote areas such as the desert, people were literally few and far between and therefore tended to be much more appreciated. In our congested western cities people have become merely an inconvenience. But which is nearer to the Way of God? What approach is there going to be in the future? The appreciation of and concern for fellow human beings is clearly and definitively prophesied to return as the norm during the Millennium...... when "a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment. And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land " (Isaiah 32:1-2) Yes, at that time any and every stranger will be utterly trustworthy, it is true. But even in days gone by, when this was not entirely the case, there was still not the suspicion and bitter western callousness we find today.

Personal Experiences:

This reminded me of something from my childhood that, in today's society, has unfortunately become quite rare. My father was a haulage contractor – he owned and ran a small fleet of trucks – and one thing I remember quite clearly were the hitch-hikers he would pick up when driving. Normally these were students who were youth-hostelling in the Dales and keen to make their next hostel before dark. But occasionally they would join us for a meal first, and from time to time would even spend the night in their sleeping bags on our lounge carpet – particularly if the weather was stormy. But I wonder how many would dare to have total strangers in their homes like this today!

While in College in the late 60s I travelled overland to North Africa one summer to visit my brother and his wife who at that time were teaching in Libya. When there, they took me 200 miles into the Sahara to a small town built around an oasis called Sokna. We stayed at the home of a man whom they had met a year or so before. At that time they were passing through the town and planned to spend the night in their car, but they were approached by a total stranger who would not hear of such a thing and instead invited them back to his home. That was this gentleman and a friendship developed that eventually allowed me also to join him and his wife for a communal meal – eaten from a single large bowl. He and his wife spoke only Arabic, with my brother translating – and outside the home his wife would never have even let me see her face – but in their home her smiling hospitality was indisputable. This custom toward strangers enables me to carry fond memories to this day, particularly sleeping out on his roof under the stars in the Sahara – with the nearest electric light 200 miles to the north. I can still remember the Milky Way seemingly reaching down to touch me through that desert air overhead when the town's generator was turned off at 11:00 pm.

Pass By on the Other Side:

Contrast that with the harsh, impersonal cities of our "sophisticated" western society today – where people can even die on the street with others rushing by them – yet no one wants to get involved! Note this report from a few years ago:

NEW YORK, USA - A Good Samaritan, who was seriously injured after rescuing a woman from an armed thug, was left to die on the streets of New York. A surveillance camera had captured 25 people walking past the man but none of them lent a helping hand or called the police. One of the passers-by even stopped to snap a photo of the dying man and went off, New York Post reported.

Odd-job worker Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax, a 32-year-old Guatemala immigrant, was out of work and had recently lost his home. According to the video footage, Tale-Yax went to a woman's aid upon seeing that she was threatened by a knife-wielding man, on a sidewalk in Queens County.

When you read the above, what was your reaction? Was it the horror of the man being stabbed because he helped someone else? Or that it "just goes to show the problems with getting involved" - thinking that he would have done well to have remembered the proverb that says, "He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears." (Proverbs 26:17) and that it would have been wiser if he had just phoned the police - passing the problem onto "the authorities"? Or were you sickened by the fact, that, once stabbed, no one was then prepared to help this dying man – but all passed by on the other side? The question is, what was your reaction? And the sobering point is, how much have we – you and me, in God's Church – been adversely affected by this harsh, self-centred world in which we live?

Loving the Stranger:

Hospitality toward strangers was something the apostle Paul highlighted as a requirement for Timothy to apply as he managed the Church's widow program. Such ladies had to be... "Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work." (1Timothy 5:10) Note carefully, "lodging strangers" was one of the requirements. The word "stranger" indicates these were not church members – something clearly seen when the apostle John commends the church for showing love, "to the brethren, and to strangers" (I John 1:5) . And, though possibly better than today, you can guarantee that not every stranger would have been totally trustworthy within the Roman empire!

Yes, we do need to be careful – particularly about who we allow into our homes. As moral values tumble, so the entire world is becoming a more and more dangerous place – ending eventually in the Great Tribulation. For this reason wisdom and balance are absolutely vital. But what are we going to say to Jesus Christ about our hardhearted modern end-time attitude, when He says, "I was a stranger and you took me NOT in" (Matthew 25:43)? For if we are going to be one of the "princes ruling in judgement" under the "King who reigns in righteousness" – then we had better at least begin recognising the problem we have, co-existing in a cold, callous, heartless and indifferent society. We need to recognise that there is indeed a progressive lack of natural affection today, and such a frame of mind is a problem – even within each of us. This was NOT always the case – even during my lifetime. And we need to recognise that this self absorbed, protectionist attitude – spawned by our evil age – will NOT be in the World Tomorrow. Such an uncaring, insular mindset can have no place within the Spirit born Kingdom of God. And though we need to remain vigilant, wise and careful, we should also – to a greater degree – also remain compassionate, loving and kind – even toward total strangers. And this becomes ever more important as the world around us slides downward because "iniquity shall abound and the love of many wax cold" (Matthew 24:12)

Thinking back to the example Christ set - keeping in mind that His mission wasn't primarily to make life better for the Jews of His day - He didn't turn a blind eye to opportunities to smooth someone's path through life, either.

  • Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her.
  • And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not.
  • And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.
  • And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother. (Luke 7:12-15)
The Mind of God:

Throughout the law given to Israel, there are so many commands regarding caring for the poor and fatherless and the stranger in our midst, for example;

  • Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard. (Proverbs 21:13)
  • He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse. (Proverbs 28:27)
  • Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.(Exodus 23:9)

It's an interesting Bible study to look up the word "stranger", or "strangers" in a concordance. And note carefully what God commands. Every one of us needs to keep firmly in mind, that "there but for the Grace of God go I", and before He called us, we were indeed no different from anyone else ... mere strangers ourselves in the land of spiritual Egypt. But now we do understand. Now we have access to the very Mind of God as it applies to strangers, the compassionate mind of a God being, and a Mind graphically illustrated in perhaps the best known parable of all that Christ gave. And as we read it, let's note Christ's final words;

  • One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”
  • Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”
  • The man answered, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
  • “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”
  • The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
  • Jesus replied with a story: “A man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.
  • “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by.
  • A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.
  • Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him.
  • Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him.
  • The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’
  • “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.
  • The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same." (Luke 10:25-37 NLT)